Cover Reveal: Ansible Season Three

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Hello readers,

I am delighted to share with you the cover (with art by Stevie Rae) for Ansible: Season Three, forthcoming from Stant Litore in March 2020!

Ansible-Season-3

A Syrian refugee, a thirteenth-century librarian, and a hijabi shapeshifter from the far future must travel across space and time to defend humanity from an intergalactic and devouring evil.

Season Three will include, in one volume, the next two stories in the series:

  • “Ansible: Rasha’s Letter” (novella)
  • Ansible: Falling from the Sky (novel)

You can get Seasons One and Two in paperback, kindle, or audiobook editions:

ansibleseason1_frontcover_1000   ansibleseasontwo_kcover1

Ansible: Season One  |   Ansible: Season Two

 

8 Years of Storytelling!

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October 5 will be here soon: the eighth anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Death Has Come Up into Our Windows. It is a very raw, emotional, visceral book about grief and justice, love and loss and endurance. I remain moved by it, many years later. Its thematic concerns are still the same questions that drive me. It was the first installment in The Zombie Bible, a retelling of the tale of Jeremiah.

Last year, I reflected on it while writing Lives of Unforgetting:

I have always found myself moved and troubled by Jeremiah’s story. Like Cassandra of Troy, cursed by the god Apollo to see the future but be believed by no one, Jeremiah walks the streets of ancient Jerusalem before its fall, pleading with the economically well-to-do, the religiously content, and the politically complacent. Look at our city, he demands. One child is sacrificed to the flames on the hill, while another starves in the street while just indoors, on the other side of a wall, an affluent woman with well-fed children bakes cakes to Astarte, and sings so that she will not hear the screams of another woman’s child.

“I set Jeremiah’s complaints against injustice and idolatry (which he saw as a root cause of injustice) to fiction in my novel Death has Come up into Our Windows. I wanted to try and put that prophet’s heart and his words of fire on the page for a modern reader.”

And in a note at the beginning of Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, I said this about the story’s genre and its thematic concerns:

“The crisis created by an outbreak of the walking dead offers a telling diagnostic of those flaws in the human condition that resurface, century upon century: our tendency to let problems fester untended until they become crises, our frequent inability to work together for a common good, our quickness to forget the lessons our grandparents learned at the cost of much sweat and blood, and the extent to which our privileged classes ignore and deny responsibility for the plight of the impoverished and the disinherited. Our ancestors often described the attacks of the hungry dead as acts of either divine retribution for human sins or divine abandonment in utter grief at human evil, and in at least one sense they may have been correct: the rapid rise of an outbreak is nearly always a consequence of our own failings.”

I think the story may be all the more timely and desperate now, even more than in 2011. Certainly when I wrote it, starting in the summer of 2009, I was thinking as much of our America as I was of Jeremiah’s ancient and dying city.

If you’ve never read the book, I hope you might. It is part nightmare, part cry of defiance in the dark, part love letter from me as a young writer with a heart on fire. It is here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012R7PFU8

In October, the book will be 8 years old. It has been a vigorous, exhausting, hopeful, exhilarating eight years. And it is still only the beginning. So many stories yet to tell.

Stant Litore

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A Little Bit of Celebration for the Day

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Look who is growing!

Diana1

It’s my Great Pyrenees puppy, Diana of Themyscira. She is known affectionately around the house, though, as Thunderfloof. She has been an enormous help to me in weathering the winter depression I get; with her, I managed to sail my raft over the surface of depression’s gray sea without sinking fully in, this winter.

She is beautiful and good-hearted:

Diana2

Look who else has been growing! Even more exciting – It’s my son, Círdan Leto, named for the Shipwright in The Lord of the Rings and for the Duke and the God Emperor in the Dune series. He is exploring. He is two now – how swiftly Lady Time leaps when children dance with her!

CirdanCirdan1

My daughters are also thriving. River is excelling at math and science, and Inara is now trying to learn to run – she’ll run a few steps, stumble, and try again, a few times a week. That is how much she thinks of the prediction she was once given that she would never stand or walk…

Thank you all for following my work! Whether you’re doing it on this blog, on Facebook, or on Patreon – where you can get the behind-the-scenes look at everything that’s getting created and help fund more of it. It means so much to me.

I hope you’ve been enjoying the books! The next up – working vigorously on it now – will be Ansible: Season Three.

Stant Litore

Books

Reminder to Self

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Reminder to Self: I am not writing for everyone.

That reader over there, in tears and a little overwhelmed with life, who tonight could really use the adrenaline rush of riding a tyrannosaur across an orbital space station, that’s who I’m writing for.

That reader over there who has just been bricked up behind an authoritarian wall of out-of-context biblical verses and can’t draw a good breath of air and who would really appreciate having that house-of-cards wall shattered and spun into a life-affirming, take-you-over-the-rainbow, blow-the-roof-off-the-church-and-come-to-Jesus whirlwind, that’s who I’m writing for.

And that boy in me, fighting giant invisible birds with a stick in the forest behind his farm, that’s who I’m writing for.

Can’t write for everyone. But I can write for them.

Stant Litore

Here in the American West

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Uranium

There is so much to love about this story. First, the couple involved have such great names for characters in a story: Stephen Jennings and Rachel Rivera. Second, the uranium and the rattlesnake were both legal in Oklahoma (the open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe, not so much). Third, the vehicle was stolen. Fourth, Rachel Rivera was a felon. Fifth, Jennings told the cops (jokingly, one assumes, but let’s not assume, because we’ve got us a story to tell) that with his pet snek and the jar of uranium, he figured he might make a super snake. Sixth, the poor guy got pulled over for … having expired tags. So there’s Jennings, backcountry rebel in his stolen ride with his felon Rachel in the passenger seat with her firearm ready, his deathkillsnake in the back, his jar of uranium, his bottle of Kentucky’s not-quite-finest firewater, all ready to rev it up and head straight across the American West to spread a trail of mayhem, carnage, and slithery wonder … and then he gets pulled over because the tags got too old. The best laid plans of snakes and men go oft awry, and bureaucracy is the grim reaper who comes for us all in the end.

And if that isn’t a quintessential American story, I don’t know what is.

Stant Litore

I’m Not Here to Write You a Small World

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I’ve been thinking about something. Every once in a while, a reader will object, with a tone of moral indignation, that they don’t like “PC” fiction (I think they mean “politically correct”; I don’t think they’re objecting to thriller novels about desktop computers) or that they don’t think I should be “forcing diversity” or writing “political fiction” or “ramming a message down their throat” or “rubbing a message in their face.” It’s always weird to me when a reader describes a fictional story with elements they dislike using metaphors for bodily invasion or assault, but that’s a topic for another time.

What I am thinking about is why there is a seemingly fundamental disconnect between these particular readers and other readers (including myself) who I write for. I think it has to do with how we have defined our communities – in religious terms, with who we recognize as our neighbors.

When I tell a science fiction story with Muslim characters, or characters with various ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, levels of physical ability, etc., these objecting readers think I am “forcing” these elements on them because what they have defined as their community does not include or welcome people who are different from them in these ways, and the presence of people different from them is seen as an invasion or violation.

But I don’t write the characters I write because I have a “message.” Or to be “PC.” Or to ram a character “down someone’s throat.” I write the characters I write because people in my community, people I love, my family and friends and colleagues – they inspire and are reflected in the characters I write. My characters are influenced by people I’ve known.

There is a 150-year-old Chinese gunslinger in a wheelchair in my current work in progress not because I want to rub diversity in a reader’s face, but because my daughter is in a wheelchair and she is as fierce as a gunslinger, and because several of my dearest college friends were from China (Yi and I used to stay up all night playing Starcraft; I usually lost), and because I think in a future scifi novel, people might live to 150.

And I wrote into Ansible: Season Three a love story between two bi women not because I have a “political” message in mind but because some people very dear to me are bi. And they have love stories. When I write science fiction stories about people marooned in alien bodies in which they never felt at home … I know people who live that experience, though their bodies are not literally extraterrestrial. That’s the scifi part.

To me, the presence of these fictional characters isn’t an invasion of the reader or an authorial intrusion that I have jammed into the story; their presence is just a given. These are people. Readers who object think that I am “adding” people into the fictional world that they don’t want there, and who they think I shouldn’t want there. Unwelcome people. But I’m not adding anyone to the fictional world. I’m just refusing to subtract people who are already IN the world we share together.

If I write a hijabi bi superheroine, I didn’t write her because I want us to be “PC.” I wrote her because I wanted to tell her story. It would be utterly exhausting to censor my fiction and shrink my imagined worlds and their casts of characters merely in order to accommodate the bigotries or discomfort of some readers.

If your own world is small, then good stories might be uncomfortable. And maybe need to be. Because good stories make our world bigger.

(But if it is truly too uncomfortable, there are so many stories out there that are written with smaller worlds inside them. Readers can go read those stories and inhabit those smaller worlds if that is truly what they want. But I don’t have any obligation to my readers to write them a smaller world. That is not what I do.)

Stant Litore